SARAJEVO, 17.02.2023. – The Steering Committee of BH Journalists Association strongly condemns the ban on access for media crews to yesterday’s session of the Prijedor City Assembly.
At the special session of the Prijedor City Assembly, which was held on Thursday, only one agenda item was discussed: the recent statements of the chief imam from Kozarac, Amir Mahić, about Saint Sava and the Serbian Orthodox Church. After several journalist crews arrived at the City Administration building in Prijedor with the intention of following the session, security ordered them to leave the building, explaining that the session was “closed to the public”.
The Steering Committee of BH Journalists Association believes that the city authorities of Prijedor had no argument for not allowing the media to report on the special session of the City Assembly, and that it is a classic attempt of censorship and banning access to information of public interest.
Bearing in mind that yesterday’s special session of the Prijedor City Assembly was convened to discuss and reach a conclusion about Imam Mahić’s statements, which caused great public attention in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the media’s interest in this topic was fully expected and justified. Therefore, the decision of the City Administration to make the session “closed to the public” and to prohibit journalists from reporting on this event is incomprehensible and inadmissible.
The Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association emphasizes that this kind of non-transparent work of city bodies is a severe violation of the Law on Freedom of Access to Information. Authorities not only in Prijedor, but also in other BH cities where similar bans have occurred before, must provide media access to assembly sessions without any restrictions, in accordance with the public interest and the need for professional and objective reporting on the work and decisions of assembly members.